NCIS Los Angeles Review: “Forest for the Trees”

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Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season six episode “Forest for the Trees.” Please note that this isn’t a recap of what happens. I’m assuming that you’ve already seen the episode. There are spoilers in this review.

For all my dislike of procedural style shows, I tend to watch a lot of them. But to be perfectly honest, I don’t find the details of investigating a murder all that fascinating. I mentioned in my last NCISLA review, that the writers don’t push this show out of the box very often and that’s true. But “Forest for the Trees” was a little bit of fresh air since it involved the team tracking down a kidnapped Sam and Callen and there was no murderer to bring to justice. And what made this episode fun to watch was, as always, the character interactions.

Everyone in this show is good at banter. Sam and Callen, Deeks and Kensi, Hetty and Granger. They all know how to keep a conversation rolling. It might not be realistic at times, but it shows how well the characters know each other and how they interact. In particular, it was really fun to watch Sam and Callen casually try to find an escape route when they wake up in the room after being kidnapped. When they with each other working together, they can be calm about serious situations. That bond of friendship has developed well over the past six seasons of the show. I’ll admit that their tunnel escape was probably the most fun of the episode. Callen teases Sam about his claustrophobia and Sam lectures Callen about not bringing a screwdriver along in case it was necessary. When we get to know more about characters, we begin to care more about them. And in NCISLA, the dialogue is key in giving the audience that information.

In contrast to Sam and Callen’s friendship, Deeks and Kensi have been developing their relationship into a romantic one. But so far, it’s still been pretty low-key. We haven’t seen much of the actual romance yet, but we really don’t need to see them go on a date every episode. This one just had them mentioning that Deeks cooked a meal for Kensi. But he couldn’t really fool her (they are detectives after all) and she knew that he’d just ordered take-out and passed it off as his cooking. The repercussions of this deception followed Deeks as the episode progressed, such as when Kensi made him chase down a suspect on foot through freezing water. Their banter is always fun and face-paced. It’s funny to see them try to cover up how much they like each other.

Of course, Hetty and Granger’s conversations are always the actual best. They have a brief discussion early in the episode about Deeks’ cooking skills and Hetty mentions his “Swedish nachos” were a hit at the Christmas party. Of course, this just seems like just an offhand mention until the end of the episode when we realize that Hetty was actually just setting Granger up. As it turns out, no one liked the nachos, but Granger is unaware and happily tries some of the strange dish. It is just like Hetty to set it up so that something like this would happen. She’s always sneaky like that. Of course, it’s just a bonus that Granger ended up liking the food.

As for the actual case itself? It was fun to watch Callen and Sam escape easily without assistance but I really had no interest in the missing analyst or Granger’s meeting with the informant. Overall, this episode had all the flash and sparkle of any other episode, so it was nothing out of the ordinary. But the charming characters keep me coming back every week for some reason.

Confidential Notes from the Boat Shed

  • I never understand the episode titles for this show. I understand the saying “can’t see the forest for the trees” but how does that apply to what happened in this episode? What’s the point of giving your episode titles if they make no sense? How important do you think episode titles are?
  • During their escape, I actually typed “it’s almost too easy” into my notes right before Callen said those exact words. Hahaha… too predictable
  • There’s been a weird lack of Nell lately. I wonder if the writers just don’t have anything interesting to do with her character right now or the actress was busy during filming?
  • Even Deeks sounds tired of watching suspects run away every episode. “What’s your plan here?” he says after he wades through cold water to catch the slowly-moving guy. “That I’m gonna slip and knock myself unconscious?”
  • The lack of a preview means that there’s no new episode next week, so reviews will resume in two weeks!

What did you think of the episode? Fun to watch or super boring? Do you like all the fast-paced dialogue or do you think everyone is too chatty? Feel free to leave a comment and discuss!


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